Save the Baltic harbour porpoise

The Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, and the ministers for the environment, fisheries and defence of all the countries around the Baltic Sea.

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We urge the Environment, Fisheries and Defense Ministers of all countries around the Baltic Sea to follow scientific advice and work together to protect the most endangered whale in Europe - the critically endangered Baltic Proper harbour porpoise.

We urge the Baltic countries to:

  • Fully protect the harbour porpoise in designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - today many lack proper protection against harmful fishing and underwater noise;
  • Stop harbour porpoise bycatch* in the entire Baltic Sea - even a single Baltic porpoise dead in a fishing net could have a devastating impact on population survival;
  • Investigate the possible coexistence of harbour porpoise nature conservation and military underwater activities - Nature conservation and military defense must work together to protect the Baltic porpoise.


* Bycatch is unintended catch of non-target species, for example marine mammals, in fishing nets.

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Why is this important?

The Baltic Proper harbour porpoise, which many don’t even know exists, is close to extinction. With only a few hundred individuals left, the Baltic harbour porpoise is critically endangered and needs urgent protection.

The most severe threat to harbour porpoises is bycatch in fisheries. Even a single Baltic porpoise dead in a fishing net could have a devastating impact on the population. In order to prevent this critically endangered population from going extinct, bycatch must be reduced – ideally to zero. This could be done by closing important harbour porpoise areas for high-risk fisheries, and by using pingers, acoustic devices that warn porpoises of the presence of nets. Pingers can reduce bycatch by up to 80% and are successfully used around the globe to avoid cetacean bycatch, but they are not used to the extent needed in the Baltic Sea.

Underwater noise is another threat to the Baltic porpoise. Loud noise from explosions and construction of for example offshore wind farms can make a porpoise deaf, which will eventually result in its death. Less intense noise from shipping or construction can cause disturbance of important behaviours such as feeding or nursing. Underwater noise should be strictly limited in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) so that they can be the safe havens that the porpoises need.

Sign this petition and help us to push Environment, Fisheries and Defense Ministers around the Baltic Sea to put in place concrete and urgent conservation measures to #SaveTheBalticPorpoise!

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